Ballybay v Clontibret
(Sunday, Ballybay, 2pm)
There will certainly be a different feel on Sunday compared to last year’s championship, not least in the new group format, but Clontibret manager McEntee said that his players are just delighted to be getting the chance to pull on their club jersey again as the champions travel to Ballybay.
It will be the first football championship to begin in Ulster (the Monaghan and Donegal Hurling Championships began last weekend), but McEntee doesn’t see it as an issue.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference,” he said on the early start.
“We’ve had no league football so we haven’t had much of a chance to work on tactics or patters of play, but nor has anyone else.
“We’ve an incredibly tough group starting with Ballybay away in the first round. There’s only ever a kick of a ball between the top four teams in Monaghan, particularly Clontibret and Ballybay.”
Colin Malone is back in charge of Ballybay.
Scotstown have ended their hopes for the last four years and given that they are not in their group, they will be confident of flourishing.
Drew Wylie will captain the side this year with Shane McGuinness acting as vice-captain. They have no retirees from 2019.
Inniskeen v Magheracloone
(Sunday, Grattan Park, 5pm)
OISIN McConville’s first game in charge of Inniskeen will see them take on a Magheracloone side that reached the All-Ireland Intermediate final in January.
The Crossmaglen man has been impressed with what he has seen so far, and their attacking threat was evident in a recent challenge match win against his home club.
Although known as a dual club, it’s understood that McConville will have full access to those who had previously also hurled for Inniskeen.
Magheracloone may have been helped by the recent lockdown on GAA activities given how long last season went on for. The team won’t have changed much although defender Michael Jones has retired. Peter Tuite is out with a long-term injury.
Scotstown v Truagh Gaels
(Saturday, Scotstown, 7pm)
WHEN these sides met in the championship last year it took penalties to eventually separate them with Scotstown advancing after Rory Beggan scored one and Truagh hit the post with another.
Scotstown would lose the final – and their attempt to win five titles in-a-row – against Clontibret and Colin McAree is now in charge as they try and regain their spot at the top of the pile.
Truagh also have a new management team in place and they will attempt to build on their progression over the last few years.
Niall Rooney and Pauric Treanor have returned from abroad to boost the Gaels.
Castleblayney v Latton
(Saturday, Castleblayney, 7pm)
CASTLEBLAYNEY will be hoping that home advantage can help them make a good start to their group campaign as they welcome Latton to St Mary’s Park.
Colm Donnelly’s side have been working on setting up well at the back, but the key will be the speed that they can get the ball up field. Ciaran Hanratty has been carrying a knock but is expected to feature.
Owen Lennon, Martin O’Brien and Brendan Lennon are over Latton this year and they will have circled this as a match that they can win.
The losing side here will be under pressure from the off.